MARCH 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 3


The Whole Nine Yards

Wonder Boys: A wonderful depiction of life and its disappointments.

Holy Smoke: Unanswerable questions turn beautiful journey into ridiculous jaunt


Short Takes
Grading from A-F

Could have benefited from some ruthless film editing. Then again, having it run even longer than three hours could have made for a more fulfilling experience. Anderson could have further explored the religious aspects of the film (of which there are legion) and made more inherent (without a voice-over) the running theme that in life, there are no coincidences and that as uncanny as it may seem, "these things happen." [More]

This film definitely needed to do something to help it from its tired, slow moving agenda. I found myself as disconnected from Tom Ripley at the end as I did at the beginning. And I barely cared whether he killed anyone else or was killed himself. As long as I didn't have to watch anymore, I was ready to applaud for the one who came out on top. [More]

- Renaissance Online staff

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Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke DuncanDie Cast
Cookie-cutter crime caper boasts quality acting, even from Willis, and an intricate plot

Rating: B

Starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollak. Directed by Jonathan Lynn. Rated R. Running Time: 98m.

Also starring Bruce Willis.

Die Hard Trilogy ('88-'95)
Winner: 1988 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.

Buy It today


When you take away marketable, heroic high-speed chases and excessive violence, don't be surprised to learn that Bruce Willis can act. His latest, The Whole Nine Yards, is a far cry from Die Hard. Willis plays Jimmy Jones, a bad guy with his own skewed morality and a subtle, understated approach that still manages to invoke fear in those he encounters.

The plot is standard fare for a crime family comedy. Jones rats out his buddies to save his own skin, and must hide to avoid all due wrath. He foregoes both his wife and witness protection for secluded, suburban Canada, where he happens to settle down next door to the miserably married but quite charming Matthew Perry (Friends). Perry's income as a dentist is too low for his shallow wife's taste, and she hires a wannabee hit man (Amanda Peet) to kill him in the name of life insurance. Peet (Jack and Jill) just can't manage to do it -- she is new at her vocation and makes the mistake of getting too close emotionally to Perry. What ensues is a web of everybody two-timing everybody else for ten million dollars, with the occasional pause for sex or comic relief.

  Matthew Perry and Michael Clarke Duncan
HOW YOU DOIN'? Matthew Perry (left) and Michael Clarke Duncan get to know one another.

Many of these scenes could have been designed for the stage. Perry (right) is constantly walking into, getting caught up in and falling over things. Refreshingly, movement carries the story as much as the dialogue does. The choreography is anything but forced; Perry is natural and comfortable in a role all but borrowed from Friends. And both Willis and Michael Clarke Duncan (nominated for an Oscar for his work in The Green Mile), who plays Jones' sidekick, are lovable bad guys: villains with zeal, certainly flawed but nevertheless redeemable.

Beyond the appealing characters and an intricate plot, the film is goofy and easygoing. Perry's character emerges as the hero, using his dental skills to appease all and allow the happily-ever-afters that Hollywood prescribes. And of course the film's outcome attempts to redefine evil. Jones is bad but all business; he has trouble hurting those he loves. In a blatant but effective contrast, certain femme fatales, though criminally innocuous, do not emerge with such integrity or success. As such, the end is agreeably vindictive and truly satisfying.

LAURA MACCABEE is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine.

PICTURES copyright © 2000 Warner Brothers.

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